Updated: May 1, 2021
Having 2 little children under 2 years, I have learned the hard way that staying up scrolling on my phone is literally the worst idea ever. But while I danced my little ones to sleep I have also listened to some great audiobooks and podcasts and here are the 5 most important things I learned that are scientifically proven to give you the best quality of sleep:
Consistent bedtime and uptime - easier said than done, but the No.1 thing to improve quality of sleep. (Remember that time you slept in and then woke up feeling even more tired? This is why!)
Dark like a cave. Cover / turn off even the smallest flicker of lights, e.g. your phone's red light etc.
Eat earlier - preferably 2h before bedtime, and preferably something fat based rather than carb based (carbs become sugar in the blood stream giving you a sugar high followed by a sugar slump, not exactly what you want for sleep).
Cool temperature. This is vital for your blood vessels to be able to lower the body's temperature for rest. (Doctors recommend around 18.3°C.)
Avoid screens. Again, harder than it seems but we all know that instagram/scrolling has never helped any of us fall asleep... (A friend of mine has her wifi on a timer plug which turns off at 9pm - respect!)
Bonus tip: Breathing exercises, gentle yoga/stretching, meditating. This is a whole separate topic with lots of research on it that I could discuss endlessly, but for now I'll post a 30 min class for you to practice for free, below :)
I find these points hard to follow ironically because in the evenings I want to let go and relax rules and treat myself (e.g. with chocolate, movies, effortless scrolling without the guilt of not being present with my kids, or chatting with friends online...) BUT I have experienced time and again that if I do these activities beyond 9:30 they end up with me having later bedtimes and less sleep.. whereas if I limit them to, e.g. 9:30 but not beyond, I go to bed much more peacefully around 10pm. I've had to admit to myself: Self love is not buying the next thing, but committing to trying this for 2 weeks (or something like that).
References & Recommendations, really worth watching/reading:
Matthew Walker: Why We Sleep
YouTube summary of above book
Another super useful video + blog post from Z Health
Full Moon ('Strawberry Supermoon') over Langland Bay a few days ago